Sunday, May 18, 2014

Three's Company

One of the first lessons one can get about cohabitation comes in the form of sharing a locker. I had locker partners throughout high school, and in my senior year my good friend with whom I had arranged in the spring of our junior year to snag a spot in the area closest to the band room where we would spend most, if not all, of our spare time. This was accomplished, and then just before school started, he asked me if I would mind too terribly much having his new girlfriend move in with us.
I confess I didn't know exactly how to react. First of all, what was he doing with a girlfriend? Hadn't we agreed somewhere along the line that we would be frustrated celibates for the foreseeable future? That's what gave us our cynical edge. Or at least that's what I believed. The other hanging chad in this negotiation was that his new girlfriend was a recent emigrant from our crosstown rival, Fairview. Fairfield. The evil empire. The bad guys. I, the newly appointed Pep Band president of the purple and gold Panthers, was supposed to give up one third of my luxuriously appointed metal box to a red and white Knight?
Okay. But I get the top shelf.
For a full two months this arrangement remained a happy one. This girl lived just a mile from my house, so I got into the habit of driving her to school most mornings. Like all happy arrangements, it couldn't last forever. Right around Halloween, my friend and his girlfriend broke up. I already had this habit built in for giving her a ride. And we had become friends. As high school students, we imagined ourselves impossibly mature and decided to deal with the circumstances by remaining cordial to one another, but all the while masking our insecurities and animosities. I tried not to take sides between my old friend and this new one. I tried to remain above the fray as she started to date another guy, and I watched my friend die just a little inside. But we remained locker partners.
Christmas came, and by this time some of those wounds had begun to scab over. The three of us were locker partners, and we didn't have to be best friends, we just had to get out of the way when that binder fell off the top shelf. I watched my other good friends begin to pair off. Some of the guys I knew were even breaking up with their locker partners and merging their textbooks in with their new girlfriends'. It was a crazy time.
It was about that time that I got my first girlfriend. She just happened to be my locker partner and the ex of my best friend. What could be more simple? Calculus. Finding a cure for cancer. Being a cynical, celibate high school senior boy.
And so it went, on into the spring and eventually our graduation. The romance between my best friend's girl blossomed and became the love of my life. Or at least for a certain portion of my life. It was my first experience with community property. It helped shape me into the man I am today: the kind that doesn't like to share a locker with anybody.

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